Over the past four years, the Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament has grown into one of the most exciting events on the local high school sports calendar, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s a simple matter of math. Bring together 54 boys and girls teams and over 800 athletes, and put city-wide bragging rights in three age groups (Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12) on the line, and things get interesting in a hurry.
“To be able to say you’re the best in the city is something everyone wants to brag about,” Tristan Etienne, a 6’9″ centre with the W.J. Mouat Hawks senior boys basketball team, explained with a chuckle during the tourney’s media launch last week.
“We definitely get fired up when we think about playing in this tournament. The talent around here has been getting better and better every single year.”
What distinguishes this event from others, aside from its city-wide scope, is the involvement of the Abbotsford Police Department. The APD resurrected the city tournament concept in 2009 as a means of connecting with the youth of the community.
Last year, organizers doled out $8,000 in scholarship money, including memorial bursaries in the names of Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan – innocent victims of the Surrey Six shootings in 2007. Eileen Mohan, Chris’s mother, will address the crowd between the senior championship games on Saturday on the topic of choosing a crime-free lifestyle.
“We’re very proud of this tournament,” said APD deputy chief Rick Lucy. “It’s just a huge opportunity for us to tie into the community. The fact that all the teams and coaches would be behind it is very exciting for us.”
The tourney tips off this week with preliminary-round games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Grade 8 boys and girls play at Abbotsford Traditional, junior boys and girls games are at University of the Fraser Valley, and senior boys and girls are at Abby Senior. For full draws, visit abbypdbasketball.ca.
Columbia Bible College is the host site for Championship Saturday, which features six gold medal games in succession. Action begins at 11 a.m. with the Grade 8 girls final and continues throughout the day, culminating with the senior girls (5 p.m.) and senior boys (7 p.m.) title games.
The MEI Screaming Eagles marching band and the Abbotsford Skipping Sensations are teaming up for joint performances at halftime of the senior girls and boys games.
One of the unique elements of the city tourney is that every local team competes, regardless of school size. The chance to take a crack at the big public schools is something the smaller schools relish.
“It’s good,” said Mariah Dykman of the Abbotsford Christian senior girls squad. “Back when we were in Grade 9, we got second or third, and it was against Mouat that we got knocked out. But it was a pretty good game, so we feel like with the same team back from Grade 9, we have another shot at it.”